Tucker will likely back up Josh Reddick in right field to start the season, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Houston manager Dusty Baker said Tucker is the future while Reddick remains the present. After a poor showing in his major league debut in 2018, Tucker showed off last September when he hit .269 with four home runs and 11 RBI, which earned him a spot on the playoff roster. If Tucker doesn't emerge as the starter in 2020, he likely will in 2021 as this season is the final one of Reddick's four-year contract.
Tucker has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats after going 0-for-16 to start Grapefruit League play. Tucker played first base in Wednesday's game against the Nationals and handled himself well. He played some first base in 2019 but would be an emergency option during the 2020 season. Tucker's primary path to playing time is to out-perform Josh Reddick in right field or assume the designated hitter spot should Yordan Alvarez's knee woes persist.
Tucker will start at first base and bat cleanup Wednesday in the Astros' Grapefruit League game against the Nationals, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. Though the 23-year-old is expected to begin the season as Houston's fourth outfielder and see most of his action at either of the corner spots throughout the campaign, Tucker began fielding grounders at first base Tuesday as he aims to increase his versatility off the bench. Tucker likely isn't being viewed as the top backup at first base, with utility man Aledmys Diaz representing a more likely candidate to draw starts at the position when Yuli Gurriel needs a day off.
Tucker is hitless in 16 spring at-bats, but Astros manager Dusty Baker sees signs that his swing is coming around, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. The 6-foot-4 Tucker has a long swing from the left side of the plate, and Baker points out the long-lever guys take a little longer to get their timing down. The manager believes there's still plenty of time for Tucker to get his timing down in time for Opening Day. He currently leads the Astros with 16 spring at-bats. At present, there isn't a starting job for Tucker, but he will push Josh Reddick in right field.
Tucker went 0-for-1 with a walk and was caught stealing in Saturday's spring game against the Mets. Tucker is now hitless in 13 spring plate appearances. He had a modicum of success in a September callup last season, but the 22-year-old outfielder with a sterling minor-league resume does not have an everyday gig lined up in Houston. With nearly 1,000 plate appearances at Triple-A, there's nothing left for Tucker to prove in the minors, so it becomes manager Dusty Baker's challenge to find ways to get his bat in the lineup.
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